FROM THE ARTIST
This illustration explores the idea that perhaps the oppressor is not so far away. The lion and the calf, the cheetah and the goat, the wolf and the lamb, the ox and the bear—each predator shares a face with its prey. Each pair of animal faces is connected to the root line of the stump of Jesse. Each generation has been challenged to forward the radical call for peace in this Isaiah text.
As I read this text, I was drawn most closely to the idea of the roots, the past history, the ancient texts from the ancient times expressing the human condition and its possibilities.The practice of culturally responsive teaching comes to mind for me, a public school teacher in Virginia.
Culturally responsive teaching is a humanizing approach that allows for the boundaries of culture to meld, firmly giving way to incredible curricular access for all students, regardless of their backgrounds. As I walk in each day as the face of oppression, the world arrives, too. My school has 48 languages spoken. We have many recent immigrants. I have a new student added to one of my classes once every couple of weeks. The only way to connect across barriers is to remove barriers with honor and reverence for the collective wisdom of humanity.
My white skin represents the oppression of centuries. With a culturally responsive approach, I can lead with love. I can honor each student’s ancestry, lived experience, and daily presence in my classroom.
Perhaps the asp and the adder not injuring the child and the infant are a metaphor for this. In this image, the child and the infant are represented by the roots. The viper represents the asp and the adder. The threat looms, yet the roots thrive and the sprout emerges from the stump. The prey and the predator are on equal terms; no longer is one superior to another. We must humanize one another. We must honor each other’s ancestry.
Breathe deeply as you gaze upon the image on the left. Imagine placing yourself in this scene. What do you see? How do you feel? Get quiet and still, offering a silent or spoken prayer to God.